Being the business lover that I am, I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend a business conference in another country, and that’s how I found myself at the University College Cork 32nd Annual Business Conference hosted by the UCC Commerce society. The conference was hosted at the Hayfield Manor Hotel near Cork City Centre, approximately a mile walk for me. I was greeted by a room of 20-somethings in suits and blouses quietly chatting over tea and biscuits, perhaps 75 students in all. Each chair was laden with promotional material, chocolate, and a notebook. The conference itself was divided into two sections, the first portion had Bill Liao (CoderDojo), Barrie O’Connell (KPMG Cork), Lisa Domican (Grace App Communication), with John O’Doherty (AIB) moderating. The second section had Cullen Allen (Cully & Sully), Deidre O’ Leary (IDME), Alan Gallagher (Voxpro), with Conor Healy (Chief Executive – Cork Chamber of Commerce) moderating. Both parts spoke on the idea of the Irish ‘Brain Drain’ – the fact that Ireland now has the highest net outward migration of all of Europe, and what can be done to stymie this flow. Each individual had their own take on what needed to be done to help Ireland grow. Some Important Points from the Conference:
- Due to its small population (about 4.5 million), Ireland has a wonderfully tight knit community. This means that most everyone knows someone affected by something, and can lead you to the people to help, which is why the business community is so strong.
- ‘Is the point of education to develop people to be rounded regardless of future, or to develop them to support Ireland?’ Ireland provides cheap education for its citizens, so to be educated in Ireland and then emigrate is actually a drain on Irish resources.
- Ireland needs to start looking internationally for immigration, not just focus on stopping emigration.
- We also need to recognize our lens. Who is our network? Our community? Is it Dublin? Ireland? Europe? The world?
- The only way to keep Ireland growing is to start doing our best now, while we are young
I’m almost tempted to move to Ireland for the start-up scene, it seems like there is a lot of potential and brilliance here. I managed to connect with one man who’s involved with the Irish Start-Up scene and knew of The Kairos Society, and I hope that I can meet with him to discuss future directions. The highlight of the conference for me was probably winning a free Kindle for ‘best question asked’ as voted on by a panel from Accenture. I knew the Irish were friendly, but I never expected it to go this far!